Patience and Perseverance

Patience in Arabic

One of the central concepts in Islam is that this life is a test. This means that human beings should expect to face trials and tribulations, and that they should endure them with patience and perseverance. This point is repeated throughout the Qur’an and the hadith. In fact, patience and perseverance in the face of difficulty are traits that believers strive to embody. Continue reading

Important Events: The Night of Power

Cave of Hira

There are many events that are important in the history of Islam. The most significant, however, is the one that set everything in motion and led to the founding of a major world religion over 1400 years ago. In order to understand Islam, one must reflect on the events that have defined this faith, its community, and its history. The story of the initial revelations are told to young Muslim children throughout the world and is a constant source of inspiration for the Muslim community. The focus of this post, part of a series on important events in the history of Islam, is the first revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad. Continue reading

Religious Egocentrism

Mohamed Ghilan is a Muslim-Canadian of Yemeni and Sudanese decent and a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Ghilan has formally studied Islam for the past four years and offers his own perspectives related to topics in Islam on his blog.

A disease that has taken over many Muslims nowadays is religious egocentrism—the over-obsession with one’s own religious understanding to the point of it becoming dogmatic. If this were to remain confined to one’s own life, it would not warrant much attention. But when it moves into the public sphere and people begin to enforce their beliefs upon everyone else, it becomes a problem.

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How to Think of God

Allah. God in Arabic.

A Muslim’s relationship with God is central to their belief. In Islam, God (or Allah, the Arabic word for God) is beyond human comprehension but is also very close. In other words, there is a sense of both awe and intimacy in the relationship with the divine. Because God is considered to be beyond human comprehension, Muslims do not depict God. Rather, they use calligraphy to write out His name. There are, however, numerous verses from the  Qur’an and hadith that illustrate the closeness of God to humans. Continue reading

The Middle Path

Moderate community in Arabic

As we have pointed out before, Islam is often perceived as a religion of extremists and Muslims are almost as a matter of course portrayed as rigid and fixed in their ways. There are Muslims, certainly, who have a more extreme understanding of the faith and believe that it must be practiced in a particular way; however, the vast majority of Muslims follow the principle of moderation in everything, including their faith. Continue reading

The Criterion

The Qur’an is one of the most misunderstood texts. It is often considered to be the source of any extremism carried out by Muslims. However, as I have written in previous posts, the Qur’an is not only a complex text that should not be approached in a piecemeal fashion, but it is a book that lays out clear guidelines for believers and outlines the positive role they should have in society. The focus of this post is verses 63 through 76 in chapter 25, which both describe the behaviors of believers and demonstrate Islam’s overall peaceful message. Continue reading

Knowing the Divine: The Names of God

99 Names of God

Allah is often (mis)understood as the Muslim God. However, “allah” is simply the Arabic word for “god”; thus, Arabic speakers from other faith traditions will also use that word. In Islam, Allah is not only known by this name, but is also known by attributes that are found in the Qur’an and the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. Commonly, Muslims say there are 99 terms that are considered to be both names as they refer to God and attributes because they describe different aspects of God. These attributes all refer to the singular being of God, but are representative of various traits. A metaphor for these attributes given by Hamza Yusuf, a well-known scholar, is the numerous colors that appear when light is refracted. Continue reading

The Death of Gadhafi: an Islamic Perspective

Libyan men lined up for hours to view Gadhafi's body Photo: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Asmah Sultan Mallick is a master’s student of International Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Weeks after the Colonel’s death, attention is now shifting from Moammar Gadhafi to the importance of establishing a new order for Libya and its people. It is safe to say most people are very happy that Gadhafi is gone, and gone for good. While I am just as excited as the next person and optimistic for a brighter future, I can’t help but to be disgusted by the images and videos that were publicized in the media around the demise of Gadhafi. The images were quite disturbing, an old man wiping blood from his face saying “God forbids this” while guns were being shot and chaos everywhere, then later people posing with his bloodied body all while smiling and giving the peace sign with their fingers. Continue reading

On the Qur’an and Knowledge

“And say, Lord increase my knowledge.” (Qur’an 20:114)

There are many misunderstandings that surround the Qur’an. It is often depicted as a book of violence and hatred that only pushes Muslims to blindly commit acts of terror. Many people who have not read the Qur’an or who do not understand enough about it to properly approach it are unable to understand its core messages. Not only does the Qur’an not encourage violence, it provides a guideline to engage the world and to find a purpose in life. One of the main ways it does this is by making knowledge and reason central to religious pursuit. In other words, a major feature of the Qur’an is its emphasis on reason as a means to understanding this world and the Divine. Continue reading

So That We May Know One Another?

Diversity on Display at an Annual Abu Dhabi Benefit Run for Cancer Research Photo: Sammy Dallal/The National

I briefly visited the Gulf during a recent stopover from Chicago to Delhi. I raced out of the Abu Dhabi airport as I only had a few hours to experience the city before catching my connecting flight. My transportation to the city’s noteworthy sights was provided by Nabeel, a hip-hop loving cabbie from Lahore, Pakistan. Having never previously stepped foot in the Gulf region, I still had an idea of the people I might see—Emirati men wearing the traditional dishdash and women donning black abayas, with sprinkles of Philippinos, Malay, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans, Brits, Americans, and other westerners. I was less prepared for the drastic economic differences that I saw–and that continue to characterize much of the growth in this capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and many other oil-rich Gulf countries.

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